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Thick and Thin Skin in Leadership

“You need to be thick-skinned to work around here!” What does that mean?

Have you heard the term “thick-skinned”? When people made fun of me, and I complained to adults. They would tell me you need to be “thick-skinned,” meaning you must learn to take the name calling, insults, and criticism.

As adults, we still need the “thick skin” as we sometimes find ourselves as little fish in a big ocean. It is essential to learn to handle criticism, disagreements, and when others may throw out harsh words. We do not have to accept them as true; everyone has a right to an opinion. However, we have the responsibility and power to respond in a manner that represents our core values. We cannot control what others say or do, but we can control how we do.

You also have those thin-skinned individuals who are upset with any bit of comment from anyone. “You look great today!” The thin-skinned individual begins to think, “Did I look terrible yesterday? What does that mean? Are they making fun of the way I look today? Do they think I look good?” These individuals place a great deal of stress on themselves, and we have to recognize who they are and realize their needs.

Thick and thin can equal toxic if we do not address the culture of our workplace. We need to get beyond the surface below the skin to the heart of what will help us work together positively! The skin level is a protective shield, but if everyone has a shield up, afraid of each other, we will never move past the first layer.

Skin Level

Skin is an organ — just like your heart, lungs, and kidneys. It’s the largest organ of your entire body. The average-sized person has 22 square feet of skin, the size of a small blanket.

Skin covers your bones and muscles as a shield of protection for your body. It also senses the environment around you and helps control your body’s temperature. The skin protects the rest of your body from injury and disease.

The skin level is the surface of your team. It covers the organization, and it senses the environment. When the leadership team identifies the temperature, an area needing support, or any repair item, it is time to take action. This layer of protection prevents any breakdowns from advancing to toxic levels.

Rip Off the Band-aide

In many cases, we have placed band-aids on different areas in hopes it helps to solve the issues. Sometimes it will last for a while, and then an issue sparks up again. It is time to rip off the band-aid and apply real solutions to the irritation of “skin.” This is when leadership has to have “thick skin” and make some difficult decisions for the entire “organ”ization.

Weird and Fun Facts

Bible scripture

The Lord’s words are pure. He is a shield to those who trust Him. Psalm 18:30

He is our help, our shield to protect us. — Psalm 33:20

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him, and He helps me. — Psalm 28:7

Many more can be listed to provide support, guidance, and wisdom as you lead. Open minds listen to all thoughts, caring hearts feel the emotions of all, and thick skin bounces off the negativity towards a positive outcome to be reached by the team. It is not you or me, but we can see all that can be! Thank you for being the solution daily in a world that needs leaders and individuals like you!

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